1856 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

William Hayley

Samuel Rogers, in Table Talk (1856) 57-58.



If Hayley was formerly over-rated, he is now undervalued. He was a most accomplished person, as indeed is evident from the notes to his various poems, — notes which Lord Holland admires greatly. His translation of the First Canto of the Inferno is on the whole good; but he has omitted some of the striking circumstances in the original.

When I first came forward as a poet, I was highly gratified by the praise which Hayley bestowed on my writings, and which was communicated to me by Cadell the publisher.

I once travelled with Lord Lansdowne (when Lord Henry Petty) to Bognor, in the neighbourhood of which Hayley was then living (not at Eartham, but in a village near it). I went to visit him. The door was opened by a little girl, and when I said, "Is Mr. Hayley at home?" he himself exclaimed, "Yes, he is" — (he recognised my voice, though we had only met once before, — at Flaxman's); and out he came, adding "I am delighted to see you: if I had not known your voice, I should not have let you in, for I am very busy." I took coffee with him, and he talked most agreeably. I said that Lord Henry Petty was my travelling companion, and that he was very anxious to be introduced to him; but Hayley, who did not care a straw for rank, could not be prevailed upon to see his lordship.